Soft Matter Emerging Investigator – Jinhye Bae

Jinhye Bae is an Assistant Professor in the Department of NanoEngineering at the University of California, San Diego. She received her Ph.D. in Polymer Science and Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2015, then worked in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University as a Postdoctoral Fellow. Her research focuses on understanding the physical and chemical properties of polymeric materials to program their shape reconfiguration and responsiveness. Her research interests also include the integration of material characteristics into new structural design and fabrication approaches for applications in biomedical devices, soft robotics, actuators, and sensors. She has received several awards including the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund Doctoral New Investigator Award (2021) and the KIChE President Young Investigator Award (2021).

Find out more about her work via:

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Twitter: @jinhye_bae


Read Jinhye Bae’s Emerging Investigator article


How do you feel about Soft Matter as a place to publish research on this topic?

Soft Matter has been a go-to journal for publishing research on the topic of soft materials as it broadly covers the fields such as chemistry, physics, materials engineering, and biology, and includes experimental, theoretical, and computational research. Our research focuses on programmable shape reconfiguration and responsiveness of soft materials by the integration of functional materials in a controllable manner or their structural designs. I feel that Soft Matter is an excellent venue to disseminate our findings on this topic to a broad audience.

What aspect of your work are you most excited about at the moment and what do you find most challenging about your research?

The most exciting aspect of our research is elucidating new fabrication-structure-property relationships of stimuli-responsive soft materials through the use of advanced small-scale fabrication techniques at the micro and nano-scales. I think this question can be the most challenging to address. To tackle this, we work on understanding the differences in physical and mechanical behaviors and the responsiveness of these materials at different scales, which can open up new possibilities for their application in areas such as micro-actuators, biomimetic systems, and biomedical applications.

In your opinion, what are the most important questions to be asked/answered in this field of research?

In my opinion, important questions in the field of stimuli-responsive soft materials research include how much a system can be scaled down while maintaining its characteristics without becoming fragile, and how stimuli-responsive synthetic materials can be applied to engineer living systems by understanding their living/nonliving interface. In the longer term, understanding such questions will allow us to predict their properties and responsiveness in non-equilibrium conditions thus creating trainable and intelligent soft materials systems.

Can you share one piece of career-related advice or wisdom with other early career scientists?

Do not hesitate to open up discussions with colleagues, mentors, and students – it can help you think outside the box. I have found that even failed trials or unexpected results can lead to exciting ideas, so be sure to set aside time to meet with your students and carefully listen to their observations and thoughts.

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